CUMBERLAND — The Corner Tavern & Cafe was one of 13 small businesses across the state selected to receive grant money from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood BusinessWork Program.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced the 13 grants totaling $500,000 on Wednesday. The awards range from $10,000 to $50,000, with the Corner Tavern receiving $50,000.
The grants were issued to start-up and expanding businesses located within Opportunity Zones.
“The opportunity grant program is for expanding our current business,” said Gregory Bender, owner of the Centre Street business. “Our plan is to increase our space — our outdoor space. This is a big piece to the overall project.”
Bender said they are also considering other things and potentially adding a new dynamic to the business; however, there are many pieces to get in place first.
The interior of the business was recently remodeled, moving things around to be able to serve customers with carryout through a walk-up window.
From day one, since first opening, said Bender, they have been, year over year, moving and adjusting things.
Opportunity Zones are a federal tax incentive initiative, administered by the U.S. Treasury and managed within Maryland by the MDHCD, which provide capital gains tax incentives for investment in economically distressed and under-served communities.
The state has 149 areas designated as Opportunity Zones, which each of the 24 jurisdictions in the state having at least one.
“We have worked to improve Maryland’s cities, towns and neighborhoods through targeted investment that supports business development and spurs positive economic growth while respecting the character of the community and the needs of its residents,” said Hogan. “The federal Opportunity Zone incentives provide Maryland with another tool to revitalize communities that really need help, and the new Opportunity Zone Microgrant creates another attractive incentive for business investment and job creation.”
The state’s Opportunity Zones program has more than 118 projects totaling $12.5 billion in capital investments.
“Small business creation, growth, and retention is a key factor in revitalizing our communities and positioning them for sustainable success — especially in communities seeking to rebound from long term disinvestment,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “The Opportunity Zone Microgrant will help bring much-needed goods, services, and, most importantly, jobs to community residents.”